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Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.19.08




Get a Taste

Like the fruit, The Pears start out a little thin but eventually hit their stride to become a full-bodied experience. With a home base in Dexter, The Pears are now trying to make a name for themselves in Eugene. 

The band is made up of a family and a few friends, bringing the total to six. Listening to their music puts you in a smoke-filled den with waves of raspy jazz floating through the air. Lead singer Lorna Pearman’s voice can be a little monotonous at times — but while the lyrics may be simple, they let the listener focus on the instrumentals, which are undoubtedly the strongest part of their music. 

With two guitars, baritone sax and a percussion section, The Pears are a full sounding band with songs that resonate musically and leave the listener wanting more. Catch their Eugene premiere at 9 pm Thursday, June 19, at Cozmic Pizza. $2. — Megan Udow



Back Down to Earth

The saga of Earth, aka Dylan Carlson, is worthy of a Behind the Music. Formed in 1990 in Olympia, Wash., Earth was signed by Sub Pop Records and soon released its first album, Earth 2, one of the monuments of end-is-nigh, sludgy, trudging doom metal. Sub Pop then pulled the plug on Earth’s next album, saying that the recording sessions were taking too long. Imagine that … a sludge band accused of being too slow. Then, strangely enough, Sub Pop re-signed the band for three more albums, releasing one in 1996 before Dylan Carlson and Earth completely dropped off the planet without a drone or a peep. 

Over the next few years, while Carlson battled his drug-induced demons and bought the gun Kurt Cobain used in his suicide, other feedback disciples like Sunn 0))) and Boris took the drone torch and carried it into the new millennium. Then Earth triumphantly returned in 2005 with a new album and a slightly new sound. Carlson kept his music to a crawl, still clicking in time to the metronome of damnation, but now Earth intoned like an Ennio Morricone score played at half speed. The same can be said for its latest album, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull. The chords are still colossal; the reverb is still gut-rocking; but the guitars ring out with a sun-drenched twang. Instead of the world’s slowest cannon shot, Earth now sounds like the world’s longest duel. 

Opening is Seattle chanteuse Jesse Sykes and her band, the Sweet Hereafter. Her Cat Power-meets-Crazy Horse sinister country rock might seem like an unlikely match for Earth, but both acts are on the same label, Southern Lord. And both are dark, heavy and equally worthy of the devil horns. Earth plays with Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter and Parade of Storms at 9 pm Monday, June 23, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Jeremy Ohmes  



What’s Not to Love?

Sometimes the best things in life come in gold lamé packages. Take the hip hop hilarity that is Leslie Hall of Leslie and the LY’s. Ample of girth and mighty on the mike, Hall takes the stage in her space-age spandex and trademark bouffant without a hint of irony and raps her heart out alongside bandmates with names like DJ Dr. Laura and OBESE E. If you haven’t seen her video for “This is How We Go,” do yourself a YouTube favor the next time you’re having a bad day.

Those uninitiated to her so-wacky-it-hurts music career may know Leslie Hall as the gem sweater girl of Internet and, recently, NPR fame. Hall has been collecting castoffs from the ’80s since finding her first “bedazzled” sweater at a Goodwill in her hometown of Ames, Iowa, almost 10 years ago. After discovering a psychic connection with the first of many gaudy garments to come, Hall created a website featuring herself stoically modeling each beloved piece of bejeweled knitwear. If Eugene is lucky, we just might get to witness a naming ceremony for Leslie’s latest thrift store find (she’s partial to names like “Orange Milk Peel” and “Midnight Roller Coaster”).

Backed by a “keytar” on songs she composed using GarageBand, Hall’s music career is unlikely to yield any serious critical acclaim. But Leslie and the LY’s vindicate every quirky misfit in their vast and enthusiastic fan base. Watching her spaz out in her videos, it is hard to imagine anyone less likely to become an underground rap sensation … but then again, nothing says “Look at me!” like a gem sweater and gold stretch pants. Leslie and the LY’s play at 7 pm Thursday, June 26, at John Henry’s. 21+ show. $13 adv., $15 door. — Adrienne van der Valk



Move Over, Amy Winehouse

Since Amy Winehouse successfully reincorporated rhythm and soul into alternative rock music, the door has opened for similar acts. Though most of her fame has, unfortunately, come from her drug abuse, she has made it cool to mix R&B with rock ‘n‘ roll again. So we thank you, Amy, and so does Mod Lewis.

The Portland band declares itself “Old-School Rhythm & Blues. Original Rock ‘n’ Roll,” on their MySpace page, claiming to sound like “Tomorrow’s sounds of yesterday and today” and listing influences ranging from Otis Redding to The Kinks.

These influences are prevalent in Mod Lewis’ sound. The song “Rain, Rain, Rain” has the guitar/ keyboard-driven style of classic rock, whereas “The Color of Freedom” dives headfirst into ’70s-style funk, the horn section followed closely by Adam East and Kris Deelane’s vocals. The instrumentation of the eight-piece group comprises vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, saxophone, trumpet and tambourine, giving the band a full sound. The layered vocals of East and Deelane are in the tradition of the standard Motown duet, contributing to the retro feel of Mod Lewis.

So while Amy Winehouse continues to check herself in and out of rehab, Mod Lewis continues to write groovy music. If you are in the mood for some neo-soul, see Mod Lewis play its first show in Eugene. Mod Lewis plays with Sonny and the Moonlighters at 9 pm, Friday June 20, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $6-$8. — Katrina Nattress



Amazing Amelia

The past couple of years were rough for Portland’s Amelia. Since beginning work on the band’s third CD, guitarist Scott Weddell quit a steady job. The person whom the band handpicked to produce their new record became a dad and moved away in middle of the project. Vocalist Teisha Helgerson was diagnosed with leukemia, and the drummer left the band.

To complete the recording process, the band brought in a new bass player, Jesse Emerson moved from bass to keys and Helgerson began sitting in on drums. Getting the band back up to speed took a lot of effort and inspired their new CD, A Long, Lovely List of Repairs, available since April.

The CD opens with “Enemigo,” a moody song with plaintive violin that Helgerson sings in Spanish. On the second track, “Farewell,” Helgerson asks, “Why do I feel so wonderful?” It’s a fair question after the agonies of the intervening four years between this and their last release. The answer, I think, lies in the fact that though Amelia’s music is melancholy, there’s always a sense of hope, a sense that once the repairs are made, things will indeed be lovely again.

The long to-do list of getting back into shape seems to have only strengthened the band, which largely exists as a three-piece (down from five at one time). Producer Mark Orton utilized many sounds to augment the tunes on the CD — even incorporating a Coke bottle on track 8, “Thick as Thieves” — and the three musicians themselves each play a wide assortment of instruments, including glockenspiel, marxaphone, autoharp and timpani.

The CD plays out with each song creating an unbroken mood; there’s little variation from their template of sultry singing, the whisper of space between notes and delicate piano. But when the end result is this good, there are no complaints. Amelia and Bryn Loosly play at 9:30 pm Saturday, June 21, at Sam Bond’s. (21+ show) $5.  — Vanessa Salvia